Campus construction for athletes, offices continues

Nnenna Nchege

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Last March, the baseball, golf, softball, and tennis programs received new lockers rooms.

The last phase of construction for sports facilities has begun and is projected to be finished after Thanksgiving. Renovations will start on the east side of the original fieldhouse to serve soccer, track, and cross country.

“Then we will begin on the west side,” said Dennis Womack, assistant superintendent for operations. “We will expand the training room as well as the soccer locker rooms for both genders with coaches offices in between them.”

Last March, the baseball, golf, softball, and tennis programs received new lockers rooms. In addition, the basketball, cheer, and volleyball programs received renovations to their locker rooms and storage space, which were completed a week before school started.

“That process lasted just over a year, and over this past summer we finished that out,” Womack said.

The football team’s all-purpose facility has been renovated, creating a new meeting room and expanded locker room space. Likewise, the swim and wrestling programs received new facilities off campus.

“Right after spring break we were able to get into the multipurpose building,” Womack said. “The need there was to allow for freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity football to each have their own locker room spaces.”

Aside from athletics, minor construction also took place on the administration offices and nurses suite.

The district has been good at researching their needs to make financially efficient decisions, athletic director Jim Bob Puckett said.

“As we’ve continually grown, it’s presented challenges to the athletic and operation departments to make sure we are providing the space or facilities not just for athletics but for the whole school district,” Puckett said.

Since 2011, the state legislature has adjusted the funding formula which in turn has decreased the funding distributed among school districts. The district signed a contract for just over $10 million with Lee Lewis Construction.

“The reduction in education funding by the State of Texas has not impacted the district’s ability to issue voter-authorized bonds to pay for capital improvements or construction projects,” Womack said. “However, the cut in funding by the state does impact the district’s ability to pay to operate, staff, and maintain these renovations and additions.”

During the construction of the locker rooms, students were relocated to temporary facilities which presented challenges for the various teams affected.

“We were not able to get to the [mats] that we needed, we had to put all of our stuff in storage, and it was mostly all blocked off,” cheer coach Shelly Wiggins said. “However we really didn’t have to use most of it because the construction was over the summer.”

In addition to the renovated locker rooms, teams were provided with more storage space and updated offices.

“We have a bigger storage room to paint signs for pep rallies and games,” senior cheerleader Alaina Keepers said. “But I think as a team we love having the bathroom in [the locker room]. It has been very convenient for us to be able to stay in the locker room instead of going all the way to the front of the school.”

For Wiggins, the biggest benefit was the storage room.

“The girls have a lot more space to get ready which is awesome,” Wiggins said. “We’re very thankful for all the space.”